So after a successful 2015 of challenges set by Swift Group caravan and motorhome customers, it was time to set off for The Manchester Caravan Show held at Event City, Trafford Park, Manchester to find out what Swift have in store for me for 2016.
I had a second reason to attend the Manchester Show – I was to appear on the Expert stage to talk about my experiences during 2015 with my challenge trips to Kent and across Europe to visit infamous WW2 locations such as Aushwitz and Colditz. I was also to meet the Swift Crew to get my first look at the Swift products I will be using this year and where I be sent on my Challenges.
I set off in my racing team bus to Manchester Friday and arrived at Event City around 4PM. My first impressions of the Manchester Show is that its a lot bigger than I thought – Its got all the you find at the larger NEC shows but with a really nice ‘local’ feel. I made my way to the stage to set up my props – My competition windsurf kit and a Paddleboard to show just how flexible these fantastic toys are for caravanners and motorhomers.
That night I settled in to cook a Chicken Stir fry in my team bus and utilise my Maxview Seeker satellite system to watch the TV. I really love the Maxview satellite and cannot believe why more people do not opt for this easy, reliable form of digital entertainment.
I was to meet up with the Swift Sales at 10AM each day as they would tell me each day one Challenge for 2016 and the product I would be using. As 2015, I will be doing 2 challenges in 2016. One in the UK in March and one European challenge in June.
I was to meet Gary O’Brien (Swift Group Sales Manager) on Saturday for him to tell me my first challenge. I know Gary from a past professional life and have the upmost respect for him. He has been in the caravan industry over 28 years and his knowledge and approach is typical of the Swift Group ethic – cool,calm and very down to earth. It was lovely to see Gary again and he outlined that I was to visit Scotland in a Swift Conquerer caravan to go skiing. I’ve only skied many years ago so this challenge seems right up my street. I go in March so will have to start organising things pretty swiftly but am looking forward to it.
Once done I shot down to the Expert stage for my first talk. The crowds that attend these talks always surprises me. The seats fill up with people standing to hear about the adventures I’ve been on ending with questions and photos – I’ve no idea why because I’m not famous!
Saturday night I chose to visit the Trafford Centre and take a look around. OMG!….. I’m not into shopping centres but this one is something else. Its architecture is a refreshing change to most other shopping centres as it is modelled on themes of marble floors, ornate fixtures and a wonderful ‘Great Hall’ which looks straight out of a 5 star Dubai Hotel.
So Sunday I was to meet Hazell from Swift motorhomes to hear my fait for my second challenge. This challenge by virtue of it being the European trip was going to be ‘The Big One’……the one that would test me more both physically and mentally so I was a little nervous.
Much like Gary O’Brien, Hazell has been a part of the Swift team for as long as I can remember and is one of the industries archetypal experts – she knows the answer to your question before you have asked it….. yeah she’s that good!
Hazell met me on the motorhome stand and delegated Martin to announce the second trip. My second vehicle is to be a Swift Bolero 722PR and I will be travelling with my wife and her sister to The Eiger. More commonly known as the North Face the Eiger mountain has earned a reputation for being one of the most severe and unpredictable climbing faces in the world. In the 1920’s teams of proffessional climbers met their death on this face made famous by its train track that runs via a tunnel up the mountain and has windows onto the North face in which rescuers accessed stricken climbers…. or more often collected bodies from the face.
My challenge to Parapet from the top of The Eiger. Something that strikes fear into my heart as I am scared of heights. Oh well, these challenges are all about pushing my boundaries so I’ll give it a go. We will taking the absolutely gorgeous Swift Bolero 722 which I’m sure we will really comfortable in, and our entertainment will be via the NEW Maxview Precision Satallite system which served us so well on our last European trip. Follow our progress on the Swift Experience webpage or my ‘Challenge Neil Greentree’ Twitter feed as I engage in the most challenging trip to date.
So Manchester was great, the talks were very well attended, and my challenges are demanding to say the least. Roll on 2016……